From: Chas Freeman
Date: Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:29 PM
Subject: [Salon] Some ground truth on conditions in the Holy Land from Ed Abington
I got back Saturday morning from ten days in Jerusalem and Ramallah where I met with many Palestinians and Israelis. I came back convinced more than ever that the two-state solution is dead as a doornail. There is absolutely no willingness on the part of the IDF to change the situation on the ground from the stranglehold they now have. In fact several Israelis said that there are an increasing number of IDF officers serving in the West Bank who live in the settlements and do everything they can to frustrate any dismantlement of roadblocks or other barriers. The head of a well-respected Israeli organization told me that former Defense Minister Amir Peretz's advisor for the West Bank said that the IDF does everything it can to frustrate positive changes on the ground per the Roadmap and Tony Blair's mission. The Israeli said Peretz's advisor said that the IDF had recruited Palestinian youngsters from Nablus to try to get through the Hawara checkpoint wearing a suicide belt. They were caught (since it was a set-up), the IDF trumpeted their arrest and used that to justify the continuing seige of Nablus. The boys were released within a short time after their arrest.
Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.
Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”
It was not until he got a quiet word of correction in his ear from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain as part of a Congressional delegation on a nearly weeklong trip, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.
In Gaffe, McCain Says Iran Backing al-Qaeda
On the campaign trail, Senator John McCain was caught in a major blunder Tuesday when he falsely insisted Iran is training and supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq. McCain corrected himself only after his colleague, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, stepped in and whispered into his ear.
Sen. John McCain: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate. So I believe that we are succeeding in Iraq. The situation is dramatically improved. But I also want to emphasize time and again al-Qaeda is on the run, but they are not defeated.”
Sen. Joseph Lieberman: [whispering] “You said that the Iranians were training al-Qaeda. I think you meant they’re training in extremist terrorism."
McCain: “I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda, not al-Qaeda. I’m sorry.”
McCain made the comments in Jordan, which he visited en route to Israel from a brief trip in Iraq.
We continue to lose wonderful people. Julia had a remarkable career, as is well detailed in today's obituary in The Washington Post, the text of which appears below (and published on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq). Julia was easily the best boss I worked for during my Foreign Service career. I was her deputy, and the senior State Department representative, at the Interagency Task Force for the Indochina Refugees for around eight months in 1975-76. She was the agency's Director. She was smart, innovative, fair, reliable, and direct in her dealings with everyone on the Washington staff and at our four refugee camps in Florida, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and California. She was a natural and formidable leader of a quite difficult project, as is partially recalled in her Post op ed piece published in June 2007, which also demonstrates her compassionate side and devotion to principle (text given below).
President Ford ordered us to get every refugee resettled by Christmas of 1975 or else we would have failed in our mission. We succeeded, and the speedy termination allowed us to turn back to the Treasury some $40 million of our appropriation, perhaps a unique outcome in the history of Washington spending.
Julia never lost her sense of humor, even while tackling the worst of our problems. I